RE x SUGAR Bakery Shop serves Japanese goodies and minimalist design


In bustling Nanjing, China, ONDO Studio creates a serene retail space that combines clean lines and natural materials.

Re x Sugar Bakery in Nanjing, China was designed by ONDO Studio. Courtesy of Zhou Lei

A welcome respite from the characterless department stores that line Nanjing’s main shopping streets, the new RE x SUGAR compact bakery offers its customers a pleasant and zen shopping experience. Rather than selling mass-produced goods in large quantities, this 400-square-foot jewelry box boutique and cafe treats its main product, bread, as a rare and one-of-a-kind item.

Hangzhou-based architecture firm ONDO Studio developed this quaint yet sophisticated bakery with nods to traditional and contemporary design. “RE x SUGAR reflects a Japanese aesthetic in two ways,” says company founder and director Ruonan Cheng. “One is the idea of ​​embodying nature and the other is simplicity. Our goal was to create a warm space with an orderly atmosphere while minimizing the application of building materials.

Cheng and his team have opted for a felted two-tone palette and clear geometric shapes, a series of interventions that breaks with the local vernacular. Exposed wood floors and countertops are anchored by whitewashed plank surfaces and stone accents. This color palette extends from the exterior to the interior. “Although solid wood is expensive in China, our client shared our vision to use this rich material in key locations. Its implementation dramatically improves the customer experience and differentiates the bakery from anything nearby. “

Courtesy of Zhou Lei

The heavy entry door juxtaposes large, rectilinear folding exhibits that collapse for seamless interior and exterior windowsill seating. This 3 foot wide opening is something of a feat of engineering and hinges on a custom steel support hinge. Its circular window helps to reduce weight and ensures the operability of the door. “You rarely find curved shapes, arches or cylinders in Japanese design,” reflects the architect. “Parallelepipeds are the norm. Although we have translated this custom throughout most of the project, a few oblique elements have been added here and there.

Inside, a central cardboard counter and adjacent wood-lined boxes showcase various types of pastry. An L-shaped living room and terrazzo seating provide guests with a place to savor their daily groceries while tables with mid-century modern carved wood chairs face an open kitchen. In true Japanese custom, guests can watch their food being prepared.

Courtesy of Zhou Lei

“The most difficult aspect of this project was the custom production of the decorative cabinets,” concludes Cheng. “It was important to keep the original cracks and textures of the old wood we salvaged, but also to get a flat, smooth surface so customers didn’t hurt themselves. We worked closely with the manufacturer to get exactly what we needed.

Although only open for six months, RE x SUGAR has already become a neighborhood staple, especially for children in this ancient Chinese city. The clean but warm and thoughtful design of the bakery stands out in an otherwise monotonous cityscape.

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